FOOD HISTORY AND CULTURE
Learning outcomes of the course unit
At the end of the course the student will be familiar with the economic, social, cultural outlines of Food History.
The student will acquire the tools to understand Food history from antiquity to contemporary times, and the connection with material and intellectual history. He will also know how to write, using specific terms, about food culture and history
Basic knowledge of history from prehistory to the 5th century and of European history from the 7th to the 21th century
Course contents summary
Features of food history from antiquity to contemporary time.
The course starting from a historical examination of the cultural, religious and economic foundational elements of the Agriculture Era in the different areas of the world, deepens
the meaning of the foundation myths. We then examine the meaning of “Plants of civilization”, to understand how food is a distinctive feature of people’s culture due to the different production, preparation, and
We then analyze the invention of “cuisine” from the historical and anthropological point of view and reach to the definition of “food models” of the Greco-Roman culture and the encounter-clash with the “food models” of the
The course then focus on the distinctive elements of the European food model.
We examine the formation of taste and its declination in different eras as a
cultural and social product.
We focus on the study of written and oral historical sources of cooking.
The most important recipe books of Italian gastronomy are studied and the
“grammar of food” is examined in detail.
In order to understand food modernity in Italy, the course focuses on the
social, political and economic changes of the nineteenth century, the Nancini Inquiry, and the starting of food industry, autarchy
during the fascist regime and its consequences, the appearance of supermarket and new “food styles”.
Birth of agriculture.
Foundation myths. Plants of civilization.
Food considered as a product of culture
The invention of “cuisine”.
Meeting between the Greco-Roman culture and that of the barbarians.
Birth of a European food model.
Material history and intellectual history. The formation of the
taste. Taste as a cultural and social product. Medieval dietetics.
Spices: trade, use, cooking
The distribution of food.
Italian recipe books. Written and oral cooking.
Language and grammar of food.
Seasonality and conservation of food.
Artusi and the birth of Italian bourgeois cuisine.
Jacini inquiry. Rural populations in Italy in Nineteenth century.
Fascism and Autarchy: consequences on food production and distribution
Supermarket Italy case.
New food styles. Global cuisine, local cuisine, new trends.
CAPATTI A., MONTANARI M., Italian cuisine. A cultural history, New York, Columbia University Press, 2003.
MONTANARI M., The culture of food, Oxford UK/Cambridge USA, Blackwell, 1994 (paperback 1996
MONTANARI M., Food is culture, New York, Columbia University Press, 2006.
Lectures with documentary material an IT supports. Documentary sources (narrative, literary and scientific) will be used as an introduction to hystorical work.
Assessment methods and criteria
Written examination consisting of five open questions based on the program. Knowledge of the topics, the ability to contestualize cronologically and using specific terms will be evalueted. The final score is calculated on the arithmetic mean of the marks obtained in each answer.
For attending students: 3-4 written previous exams consisting of three open questions.